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That Loving Feeling

With apologies to The Righteous Brothers, this blog post is not about one of their greatest hits but is instead focused on creating that loving feeling for candidates as they arrive at your workplace for an interview. There are very few business related activities as stressful as going for a job interview. For many folks, during these tough economic times, an interview also represents a bastion of hope for them as they transition from being laid off to having an opportunity to support their family again. That is why with my teams I have always stressed the importance of creating a positive environment for the candidate prior to and during their interview. In other words, we are trying to create that loving feeling. Regardless of how well the candidate appears or does during the interview, you owe it to them and your organization to welcome them, respect them and provide them an opportunity to positively sell themselves. If you have set the stage properly, than the rest is in the candidate’s hands! The following are some tips and best practices on how to create the proper environment for candidates that you are interviewing with for your organization. Remember – this all formulates part of your employment brand!

1. When reaching out to the candidate to set up a convenient time to meet, keep in mind that many candidates currently have jobs. So, meeting at 10am might not really work for them. Employers who want a candidate to feel at ease will set up interviews early in the morning before the workday begins, at the end of the day or even during off hours/days. This will allow the candidate to feel more relaxed and focused as they are not worried about getting back to the office on time or having to take a vacation day (or sick day!) from work for the interview.
2. Once the date/time is established, make sure to provide any special instructions to them as it pertains to parking, facility access, etc. This will help alleviate time pressures and unknown stresses. If there is no where to easily park at your facility, let them know that they will need to find a meter near your business if they are driving. If they need to register with security (or at a security gate) let them know that they will have to do this as well. Better yet, make sure that security is aware that this person is coming, so that their entrance/arrival can be better facilitated.
3. My golden rule of interviewing is to not have the candidate wait in your reception area for any more than 5-7 minutes. (Assuming they have not arrived 30+ minutes early.) If your interviews tend to run long, than schedule more time in between interviews. Do what it takes to not have a candidate sitting in your lobby and having their anxiety levels increase by the minute.
4. Which leads to – do not, under any circumstances, have interview times go back to back. There is nothing worse than having candidates cross path in the lobby as one candidate leaves after their interview and another arrives. In small(er) cities or niche industries, many candidates actually know each other (or know of them) and this can create some very uncomfortable situations for everyone.
5. Once your candidate is seated, make sure you offer them something to drink – coffee, tea, water etc. Better yet, make sure you have bottles of water already sitting on the table for the candidate. Many candidates often will decline your first offer of something to drink, but after 10mins of talking, they will be dying of thirst!
6. When opening your interview meeting with them, explain the procedure/format that the interview will follow. This helps alleviate anxiety as the candidate knows what to expect. If you are going to be asking BDI style questions (behavioural descriptive) let them know this up front so that they are aware and can prepare. Remember, your interview questions should be designed to solicit information about the candidate’s work history and experience. The interview is not supposed to be about trying to trick a candidate or stump them with bizarre questions not related to the job. It is also not a time for the interviewer to be extolling their virtues about how wonderful a manager they are and how interesting their own personal background is. This is the candidate’s time and you should be listening to them. The end of the interview is a great time to “sell” the opportunity and the company to the candidate.
7. When the interview is done, walk the candidate back out to the reception/lobby area. Thank them for their time and above all, follow up with them when you said you would – do NOT leave candidates wondering about the status of their application and wondering if they “passed” the interview or not.

At the end of the day, if you follow these best practices, your candidate(s) will all complete the interview process having had a positive experience – even those that did not get the job. They will feel as though they have been treated with respect and were given a legitimate opportunity to showcase their skills and experience. Additionally, you will also have reinforced your employment brand with your candidates. I wish you the best of luck in your recruiting process. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Ventrilock/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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2 Responses

  1. I enjoyed this blog. I had recently gone on an interview and the impression I got in how I was received and the environment gave me impressions about whether or not I could invision myself working there. What is your take on giving the BDI questions to the candidate you will interview for a period of tIme before the interview is to begin? I have been to some interviews like this.

  2. Thanks Deneen! I would say that that organization set things up properly then if you were able to get an impression about whether or not you could see yourself working there.
    I myself have not engaged in the practice of giving the BDI questions in advance for review, but I don’t have a problem with it. Again, the whole point is to gather information to make an assessment – I don’t believe in interviews being “tricks” – you don’t find the best people that way!

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